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L'intervista a
Rebecca Fairley Raney

Dal NewYorkTimes, web e politica

(Vai al testo in italiano)

As a journalist, you are following this Presidential campaign from the point of view of the Internet. Do you think that it could really be the 51 country? That it could play a great part in a campaign success?

This year, the Internet will not have much effect on the presidential elections. There's no such thing as a low-budget campaign for president. Those campaigns will be largely run on television. The Internet could be a factor in races for local school boards and Congressional seats, however.

What is the value the web can add to a political campaign. Is it really a step towards a renewed "democracy"?

The potential is there, especially in elections for lesser-known offices. It's important to remember that the Internet does not work like television, though. Much of its value is as a means of cheap communication, a way to organize supporters by e-mail without spending large amounts of money.

With McCain, it seemed that the Internet versus the Establishment could make a new David against Golia, but the dream has fallen. Even the Usa are not ready for "net-democracy"? Even there the other media (that could be considered more "passive" than the Web), and the other "interests", lobbies and so on, are still much more stronger?

Once again, the McCain scenario showed that the Internet is not the best tool for a national campaign; there's no such thing as a low-budget campaign for presidents. Many people forget, too that by far most of the money raised by the McCain campaign was not on the Internet. It was pulled in by professional fund-raisers who called donors on the phone. The McCain campaign simply got a lot of publicity for the Internet, and other campaigns will likely try to stage Internet-related publicity stunts.

What do you think about digital vote, experienced for the first time in Arizona. Could it really work? Will it help to get more people involved in politics?

It is not likely that a new method of voting will increase voter turnout. In Arizona, for example, only 4 percent of registered Democrats voted by Internet, a number that hardly constitutes a revolution. The problem is that people are disenchanted with the system. A new technology will not cure that problem.

What's about the "digital divide"? Someone says that the development of net-politics will bring a determined kind of people to be more involved in politics ( so that it will help some parties and some people, always the same…), and that it will authomatically exclude the poor and the less "advanced"…

It is very likely that the availability of high-quality information about campaigns and government will drive the issue of equal access. As online information improves, the impetus will build to ensure that all Americans can see it.

During the campaign an Internet consultant prefigured a "Great Brother" future, with candidates capable to send different messages to different people knowing what they should think about given arguments thanks to the information taken by their computrers…maybe he was "forcing" the argument, but this is not a risk?

Well, I've never heard of anything like this, but the fact of the matter is, if anyone gets caught doing this, they will have a publicity disaster on their hands. The risks of operating this way are very high.

(27 marzo 2000)